The perils of professionalism

I have often found it challenging when someone introduces themselves to me as “a professional communicator”. I am invariably left wondering what that makes me after 53 years on the planet – an enthusiastic amateur? I feel the same way when people introduce me as “a social media expert” or my pet hate “a social media guru”.

I am neither of those things. I am me and I do what I do and know what I know. When my boss asked my at the BBC if I would be OK with the job title of Director Of Knowledge Management my response was “You can call me what you like so long as you continue to pay me”.

Over lunch today with a friend we got talking about the extension of this fixation with titles and labels into professional associations. The unhealthy interest those groups have in status and jargon and generally distancing themselves from ordinary people. The focus on the tribe and its needs rather than doing something worthwhile.

Status is the problem. Status that emerges from consistent behaviour, that is conferred by others, and that is borne with humility is one thing. Status as a protective armour and a weapon with which to attack people is something very different and to be avoided at all costs!

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